FWT Homepage Translator

Saturday, November 12, 2005





John Robert Mallernee, Clan Bard

We often hear that the safest subject to discuss is the weather.

So, let's try greet each other and chat a little about the wind and the rain.

The information I'm attempting to write about comes from the compact disk, "SPEAKING OUR LANGUAGE", which is available for purchase on the World Wide Web, using your home computer.

But, having grown up in America, speaking only English, my ear is not trained to accurately understand spoken Gaelic, and I understand that there are sounds in Gaelic which are not made in English, as speakers of those two languages occasionally will differ in the way they move their lips, tongue, and larynx.

Being able to enunciate the correct sounds is one of the difficulties in trying to learn a foreign language, and why American soldiers in far off lands are so prone to comical errors when they try to meet girls or do any shopping.

It's also the reason we native Americans can detect a foreign accent when English is spoken by someone who wasn't born here, and why English spoken by folks in a small North Carolina town (like where I grew up) doesn't sound anything like English spoken by folks in Boston, Massachusetts.

So, I'll do my best to try and phonetically convey what I am hearing when I play the "SPEAKING OUR LANGUAGE" CD ROM on my computer.

First of all, as the sun comes up, greet your wee ones with a peck on their brow and the words, "Madainn mhath!"

It's pronounced as "mah-tin vah", and means "Good morning!"

During the day, you can greet someone by saying, "Hallo!" or "Hai!", which is just exactly like the "Hello!" and "Hi!" that we say every day right here in America, unless you grew up in North Carolina, where it's required to add "y'all!" to your greeting.

(Well, to be truthful, Tar Heels are much more likely to say, "Howdy, y'all!")

You can also say, "Lath math!" which means, "Good day!", and is pronounced "lah-mah".

Later in the day, you might say, "Feasgar math!", which means "Good afternoon!, and is pronounced "fis-ker mah".

If it's a beautiful day outside, you can comment by saying, "Tha i breagha an diugh!", which means "It's lovely today!", and is pronounced as, "hi bree-ah ahn joo!"

Someone might respond by saying, "Tha. tha i cluin an diugh.", which means, "Yes. It is calm today.", and is pronounced as "hah. hi cloo-in ahn joo."

But, as you're caught in a sudden rainstorm, you exclaim, "Chan eil! Chan eil cluin! Tha i fluich an diugh!", which means, "No! It's not calm! It's wet today!", and is pronounced as, "hahn a-ell! hahn a-ell clooin! hi floo-ick ahn joo!"

As the sun sets, and the gales blow, amid brilliant bolts of lightning with deafening thunderclaps, you begin running towards your inn, asking your companion, "Tha i fiudhaich a-nochd, nach eil?", which means, "It's stormy tonight, isn't it?", and is pronounced as, "hi fyoor-aash ah-nockt, nah a-ell?"

Do you notice anything unusual here?

The Gaelic word for "night", while spelled slightly different, is pronounced EXACTLY the same as it is in German, or the "Deutsch" language.

Also, don't you think the Gaelic word for "day" sounds awfully close to the same word in French?

The French add an "r" to the end of it, but otherwise, it sounds the same, even though it's spelled differently.

Of course, the Celtic peoples were once found throughout Europe, and there has been much exchange among the various languages, as Scots and Scotland have conquered or been conquered throughout the centuries.

I think it's really interesting to note how languages evolve and transit the globe, growing among people to people throughout aeons of history.

And don't you just love the fact that so many Gaelic words are now unconsciously part of our normal English language?

Anyway, as Winter descends upon us, you can shiver and say, "Tha i fuar!", which means, "It's cold!", and is pronounced, "hi foo-er".

So, you stoke your fireplace until it's to your satisfaction, when you say, "Tha i blath.", which means, "It's warm.", and is pronounced, "hi blah".

Then, as you tuck your wee ones in with a kiss and a story, you bid them, "Oidhche mhath leat!", which means, "Good night to you!" (informal style - - - used only with people you know), and is pronounced, "oy-kya vah laht!"

As you close their bedroom door, you lightly say, "Cadal math dhut!", which means "Sleep well, you!" (informal style), and is pronounced as "kah-tahl mah dyoot!" (IF my untrained ear understood the example properly).

We make our farewells in the Highlander language by saying, "Chi mi a-rithist sibh!", which means, "I'll see you later!", and is pronounced (to my untrained ear) as "kee mee ah-ree-ahst shiv."

"Goodbye!" is "Mar sin leibh!", pronounced "mar shin leev."

Well, there's much more, but this report is about as well as I can do at the moment.

Slainte mhath, y'all!

John Robert Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

" - - - the blood is strong, the heart is Highland, and we in dreams behold the Hebrides."

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